Descriptive and Inferential Statistics

Descriptive Statistics
Inferential Statistics

  • Sample vs. Population

Descriptive Statistics

Descriptive statistics are numbers which are used to describe or summarize your data e.g., average life expectancy in Brazil, per capita income in US etc.

Data (which is a plural indeed!) might have come from Surveys, Experiments or historical data collected in a process.

As the name suggests Descriptive statistics just summarizes the data at hand it does talk about the sample we are studying and we do not infer anything for the population.

When we try to infer the behavior for a larger group that becomes inferential statistics.

For now we will focus on understanding descriptive statistics.The table below shows the literacy rates across various countries, and give an insight how the countries are performing in terms of literacy.

Country Adult Literacy Rate Youth Literacy Rate
15-24 age
China 95.1% (2010) 99.7% (2015)
Sri Lanka 92.6% (2015) 98.8% (2015)
Myanmar 89.9% (2007) 96.3% (2015)
World Average 84% (2010) 89.6% (2010)
India 74.04% (2011) 90.2% (2015)
Nepal 55.5% (2007) 86.9%(2015)
Pakistan 50.2% (2007) 74.8% (2015)
Bangladesh 53.5% (2007) 83.2% (2015)

(source: wikipedia)

It is a very proud fact tat we are moving towards 100% literacy rate.

For more descriptive analytics you can see the following table which talks about Sex ratio in different states in India. Descriptive statistics is very insightful, e.g., it is clear from the table below that ‘Kerala’ and “Puducherry” have very good Sex Ratio but in the Children it is decreasing which is an alarming situation for us.

2011 Census 2001 Census
Rank State Sex Ratio Child Sex ratio Sex Ratio Child Sex ratio
1 Kerala 1084 964 1058 960
2 Puducherry 1037 967 1001 967
3 Tamil Nadu 996 943 987 942
4 Andhra Pradesh 993 939 978 961
5 Chhattisgarh 991 969 989 975
6 Meghalaya 989 970 972 973
7 Manipur 985 930 974 957
8 Orissa 979 941 972 953
9 Mizoram 976 970 935 964
10 Goa 973 942 961 938
11 Karnataka 973 948 965 946
12 Himachal Pradesh 972 909 968 896

(Source: Wikipedia)

Descriptive analytics are gateway to understand your data – It is advisable to run descriptive analytics whenever you get a new data to work on. Descriptive analytics motivates us to do further deep dives in data. For example, in the Literacy Data – We would like to further study about the differences in China and Pakistan which causes such a huge difference in literacy rates.

Inferential Analytics

Inferential analytics is the branch of analytics where we estimate the population behavior from a sample. If you have to understand the brand affinity for your company, it is not possible to go and ask each and every individual on earth, rather a small subset of population (i.e., sample) is selected to study the behavior.

Sample Vs. Population

As discussed above, sample is a small portion or subset of the entire population which is a close representative of the population. By close representation of population, we mean that the descriptive statistics for sample and population should be similar. E.g., if population has 50% males and 50% females, it shouldn’t be the case that your sample has 90% males.

There are many techniques in which a sample can be selected. E.g., Simple Random Sampling, Stratified Sampling etc.

Sampling methods will be discussed in later articles.


The following two tabs change content below.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *